Roasted Duck & Century Egg Congee Recipe 烤鸭皮蛋粥食谱

Over the years, I have learnt to appreciate the bone-in, lip smacking, finger licking good Cantonese Roast Duck more than the delicate crepe-wrapped Peking Duck. Whenever there’s leftover from either of the aforementioned duck dishes, I would pack it home to make soup or Hakka-inspired stew out of the carcass, and strip off the fleshy remains on the bones to cook Ee Fu noodles or congee with century eggs. Here’s a favourite rice porridge recipe of mine which is not only very easy to make but also gives the impression of slow-cooked traditional flavour if you serve it in a heated claypot. Remember, the eyes always feast first! Lol…

The eyes always feast first!

Why do we eat Century Eggs besides its good (albeit acquired) taste? Because our body’s pH affects everything and the pH of a century egg is around 9–12!

“The pH level of the body has the ability to affect every single cell of the body. When the blood has an alkaline pH instead of an acidic pH, it will have a positive effect on how every bodily system functions. The brain, circulatory system, nerves, muscles, respiratory system, digestive system, and reproductive system can all benefit from a proper pH level. On the other hand, when the pH of the body is too acidic, it is susceptible to many diseases and problems. Weight gain, heart disease, premature aging, fatigue, nerve problems, allergies, muscle disease and cancer are all more prevalent when the body’s pH is not optimal. Because these problems are all more likely to occur when the body’s pH is too acid, it makes good sense to eat a diet rich in alkalizing foods. The primary goal is usually to eat approximately 75-80% alkaline foods along with only about 20-25% acidifying foods. If this level is maintained in the diet, the end result is a slightly alkaline pH in the body, which is perfect for optimum good health.

Water is the most abundant compound in the human body, comprising 70% of the body. The body therefore contains a wide range of solutions, which may be more or less acid. pH (potential of Hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution – the ratio between positively charged ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming.) The pH of any solution is the measure of its hydrogen-ion concentration. The higher the pH reading, the more alkaline and oxygen rich the fluid is. The lower the pH reading, the more acidic and oxygen deprived the fluid is. The pH range is from 0 to 14, with 7.0 being neutral. Anything above 7.0 is alkaline, anything below 7.0 is considered acidic.

Human blood pH should be slightly alkaline (7.35 – 7.45). Below or above this range means symptoms and disease. If blood pH moves below 6.8 or above 7.8, cells stop functioning and the body dies. The body therefore continually strives to balance pH. When this balance is compromised many problems can occur.”

Text Credit:

“According to a common misconception, century eggs are or were once prepared by soaking eggs in horse urine. The myth may have arisen from the urine-like odor of ammonia and other amines produced by the chemical reaction used to make century eggs. However, this myth is unfounded as horse urine has a pH ranging from 7.5 to 7.9 and therefore would not work for this process.” – Wikipedia

“The traditional method for producing century eggs is the development and improvement from the aforementioned primitive process. Instead of using just clay, a mixture of wood ash, calcium oxide, and salt is included in the plastering mixture, thereby increasing its pH and sodium content. The addition of calcium oxide and wood ash to the mixture lowers the risk of spoilage and also increases the speed of the aforementioned primitive process. A recipe for creating century eggs through this process starts with the infusion of three pounds of tea in boiling water. To the tea, three pounds of calcium oxide (or seven pounds when the operation is performed in winter), nine pounds of sea salt, and seven pounds of ash from burned oak is mixed into a smooth paste. While wearing gloves to prevent the chemicals from burning the skin, each egg is individually covered by hand, then rolled in a mass of rice chaff to keep the eggs from adhering to one another before they are placed in cloth-covered jars or tightly woven baskets. The mud slowly dries and hardens into a crust over several months, and then the eggs are ready for consumption.

Through the process, the yolk becomes a dark green to grey color, with a creamy consistency and strong flavor due to the hydrogen sulfide and ammonia present, while the white becomes a dark brown, translucent jelly with a salty flavor. The transforming agent in the century egg is an alkaline salt, which gradually raises the pH of the egg to around 9–12, during the curing process. This chemical process breaks down some of the complex, flavorless proteins and fats, which produces a variety of smaller flavorful compounds.” – Wikipedia

The shredded roasted duck and sliced pacific clams can be prepared in advance and kept in fridge until needed. (Background: Century Egg and Ginger julienne)

Roasted Duck & Century Egg Congee Recipe 烤鸭皮蛋粥食谱 (serves 2 big or 4 small)

Ingredients for the rice cooker Phase 1:
1½ cup raw long-grained rice.
1 teaspoon Salt.
1 tablespoon Oil.
6 – 10 cups Water.

Ingredients for the rice cooker Phase 2:
1 tablespoon water-milled rice flour.
Roasted Duck (pieces from unfinished meal or strips off the carcass).
1 Salted Duck Egg, optional, hard-boiled and then mashed with fork.
½ tin Pacific Clams, optional. If using, retain the brine and use it in cooking.

Garnishing (use all or choose those you like):
1 Century Duck Egg, sliced or diced.
Ginger, julienne.
Spring Onions, chopped.
Cilantro, chopped.
White Pepper Powder.
Fried Shallots in Oil.
Sliced Chillies.
Sesame Oil.
Chinese Crueller (youtiao 油条 you char kueh).

Phase 1:
Rinse rice well and drain away excess water in a colander. Transfer to a large bowl, add salt and oil to rice and set aside for 30 – 60 minutes. Using the back of a Chinese soup spoon, crush rice to break them up (see Tip below if you want to skip this step for a smooth congee).

Add the ratio of water (6 – 8 cups) to the prepared rice according to your desired consistency into the rice cooker, together with the pacific clam’s brine. (If using brine, start with 6 cups water and add more water later if necessary).

Press the “COOK” button but Do Not close the cover on the rice cooker.

Check congee occasionally and stir/scraping the bottom to prevent burnt as the porridge thickens. Add more water if necessary. Congee should be smooth after about 45 minutes (maybe lesser depending on rice cooker’s efficiency).

Phase 2: Add the mashed salted duck egg (if using), roasted duck meat, pacific clams and season with white pepper powder and salt to taste.

Remember to do a taste test before adjusting final seasoning i.e. salt and chicken stock powder (optional).

Phase 2:
Once the grains are broken, add in the rice flour solution. Stir to mix well.

Add the mashed salted duck egg (if using), roasted duck meat, pacific clams and season with white pepper powder and salt to taste.

Simmer until the congee reaches the consistency you want, unplug the rice cooker.

Garnish and drizzle a little sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Transfer the washed and drained raw rice into a ziplock bag and freeze them overnight or until needed (months). The science behind this process is that the moisture in rice first crystallises and therefore expands the rice kernels making them brittle. A light crush will break the grains easily without needing to pre-season and wait for an hour before you can start to cook. That said, in order to achieve a silky smooth Cantonese congee, you will still need to add some oil during simmering.

If you are crazy about century eggs and century-old cooking method, you may want to mash (half an egg’s amount into the recipe given here) into the broken raw rice for extra deep flavour (and let sit overnight in fridge if you have all the time in the world like me) before simmering the rice in a tall soup claypot for a couple of hours (see picture here – the narrow mouth locks in the flavours and taller body for volume since congee needs a lot of water to cook).

Phase 1 is the simplified Basic Rice Congee recipe (with or without the mashed century egg. You can add any protein (meat or seafood) of your choice. Vegetarians may use Chinese braised peanuts, fried peanuts, fried beancurd (taukwa) and any vegetables deemed suitable. If you think the ingredients will appeal to your tastebuds, use it!

Substitute water with clear unseasoned stock (i.e. bones from chicken, fish or pork. You may also try dried shiitake mushroom stems – I usually keep them when using mushrooms caps for other recipes).

I experimented adding some freshly milled black peppercorns on top of the white pepper powder and found the former actually does complement this duck congee.

Congee’s water to rice ratio can be quite forgiving since you can always top up with more liquid as you cook should you find the gruel too thick as it boils down.

Garnish with condiments and aromatics of your choices and dig in whilst hot!

P.S. The leftover duck was a dabao from Ming Chu Chair Lao Ban (名厨车老板) located at 134 Casuarina Road, one my favourite places for Hong Kong-styled Roast Duck $38 for a whole bird. They also serve England Duck for $48, one day advance order is required. Be forewarned that the Lao Ban may “harass” you with his attentive friendliness! Haha…

England or London Duck is a fattier breed from Ireland, ironically. Ducks are believed to be free roaming, grain-fed on natural diet, hand-plucked feathers, and music played before/during slaughter according to Daniel Food Diary (Singapore Food Blogger).

Happy cooking, eating and bonding! 🙂

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